Let’s be honest, Winners never cheat and cheaters never win. I’ve been hearing this saying since I was a kid and have been able to apply this belief to the things that I take most seriously in life. There’s no difference between working hard in a career in baseball and doing it without the help of performance enhancing drugs vs. marketing a brand towards a consumer market. There are plenty of ways to bend and break the rules when it comes to getting ahead in the world of business and marketing.
Sure, using SEO/SEM spam techniques are proven to boost your rankings on search pages. The success of unethical practices can have you experiencing favored results for days, weeks and even months, but someone always wises up to the illegality of their tactics. “As search engines detect that you’re using illegal SEO techniques, they will ban your site from their index for a long time” (Admin, 2018). Is it really worth it for a brand to tarnish their brand identity for potentially a few weeks of successful traffic? “It’s very tough to be re-indexed if you’re caught using SEO spam. The dangers are huge. You should ask yourself if you’re ready to risk your website and your whole internet business in order to gain higher search engine rankings” (Admin, 2018).
Some of the unethical tactics that brands engage in would include:
- Hidden Text and Links: “Search engines scan pages for keywords entered into a search query and show results where that keyword appears mostly on a page. Webmaster decided to insert some text or links that can be seen by search engines, but not by human eyes. For example placing white text and links with keywords into a page with a white background color. People couldn’t see the difference, but spiders could and ranked those sites higher. It doesn’t work anymore” (Admin, 2018).
- Cloaking: “This method is used to deliver different pages for visitors and search engines. Webmasters configured their servers to recognize IP addresses of SE spiders and deliver them content rich, optimized pages, while showing absolutely different pages for human visitors. Cloaking may also redirect visitors to a home page. This technique is treated as spam and is not recommended to use” (Admin, 2018).
- Paid Links: “Buying links for SEO has some undeniable advantages for the buyer. First of all, it is easy. Once a transaction is done, there is no need to bother with the quality of the content. Secondly, the anchor text, a strong Google ranking factor, is also chosen according to customer’s preferences. These two reasons are enough to effectively manipulate search engine rankings which is why this SEO technique is classified as a serious black hat” (Perzyńska, 2019).
There is a clear difference in the tactics used by brand that would be deemed ethical vs. unethical. Unethical practices are geared towards tricking the viewer into accessing the website’s content. I would compare it to stuffing the ballot box on voting day when it comes to how the analytical data is compiled and recorded. Their ranking on search engines like Google will be falsely amplified if their tactics succeed. Optimus Online Thinking identifies key differences between ethical and unethical practices that brands can partake in. Main differences that would make a brand’s tactics ethical would include keeping keywords and phrases relevant to the content on the website, making sure that the keywords are regularly updated to continue to target the proper market and keeping content up to date so the audience views the website as a reliable source for what they are looking for.
Being ethical in daily business practices, not just everyday marketing, has its big time benefits. The most important one that comes to mind is the fact that you keep a good name associated with the brand and the way the you do business. The market will end up viewing your brand as a reliable website to visit and not feel threatened or in danger of their well being or privacy being put in jeopardy. Along with the benefits that the target audience and market will identify for themselves, the ones who help the website and overall business operate will hold themselves to a higher standard as well. Increased employee retention will help them believe wholeheartedly in the brand and willingly wan to promote and sell the brand. “A transparent company that promotes responsible marketing can provide a sense of purpose to workers and worth to society” (Medium, 2017).
–Evan Tyler DeLuca
Perzyńska, K. (2019). 8 Risky Black Hat SEO Techniques Used Today. Retrieved from https://unamo.com/blog/seo/8-risky-black-hat-seo-techniques-used-today
Unethical SEO Techniques – Free Marketing Zone | Internet Marketing Tips | Mobile, SEO, PPC, Email, Social Marketing Information. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.freemarketingzone.com/search-engine-optimization/unethical-seo-techniques/